Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ghost The Musical

I am a theater girl.  There's no denying how much I love going to the theater.  I think it started when I was little.  My mom and dad always had music on around the house.  We grew up with country, classic rock, "elevator music" as I called it, movie soundtracks, and Broadway tunes. I've had Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat memorized for as long as I can remember.  Telling a story through music is a beautiful thing.  I can remember the first musical I ever went to.  It was Damn Yankees, featuring Jerry Lewis, at what's now called the Straz Center when I was in middle school.  I can still remember what I wore (it was the early 90s so it was ridiculous) but it was the night I truly fell in love with musical theater.

I was so excited to go to the Straz Center last night for Opening Night of Ghost the Musical.  The Hubs doesn't share the same love for the theater as I do so I asked my mom to be my date for the night.  She loves the movie Ghost plus loves going to the theater so she made the most perfect date!  We made great time over the bridge to downtown Tampa, which is completely unheard of at 6pm. We picked up our tickets and headed in.  We got there early, thanks to no traffic, but it gave us a chance to catch up.  With so much going on in our lives, it was nice to just sit and talk, even if I do talk to her every day.
The gorgeous Straz Center
(photo by Rob Harris)
When the time came, we headed to our entrance and were escorted to our seats by one of the lovely volunteers.  I was quite pleased with the view from our seats!  I didn't know what to expect because I've never seen the movie Ghost besides the famous pottery scene.  So I had nothing to compare the show to, which I think was a good thing.  When the show started, I was instantly blown away by the set design.  The use of video images and video screens in the overall set design was something I had never seen before!  The visual effects they were able to achieve were hands down, the best I've seen.  There is a scene where the cast is standing in the rain.  It looked so real! And all that was used was a screen and video images of rain. Unbelievable!!!

I always stalk the Playbill to see what other productions cast members have been in.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of cast members list RENT in their resume.  I love RENT so anyone that's associated with it wins points in my book. I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed!  Stephen Grant Douglas, who played Sam Wheat, was Roger in a regional production of RENT and his voice fit the bill.  He was fantastic! He did a great job of bringing the character to life (or death I should say). I'm sure it was hard to make it look like he was a ghost but he nailed it in my book!  Molly was played by Katie Postotnik.  She is absolutely gorgeous.  I wasn't too sure about her voice at first and then she sang "With You", a song about how Sam's death affect her.  It was in that moment that I was captivated by her. The tone and depth of her voice was absolutely beautiful.  Katie and Stephen, besides having amazing voices, had great chemistry and their voices sounded perfect together.  Whoever cast these two in these roles did an amazing job!
Steven Grant Douglas and Katie Postotnik, Ghost The Musical Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2013
As for the story, it was just okay in my book.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the show but I didn't identify with it as strongly as I have other shows.  My mom had mixed reviews about it because it was quite different from the movie.  She came in thinking it was going to mimic the movie plot and there were only a handful of scenes from the movie.  I did not have anything to compare it to since I have never seen the film. I think that helped me to appreciate the show a little more than she did.
Carla R. Stewart and Steven Grant Douglas, Ghost The Musical Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2013
While the plot might have missed the mark a little, the technology and set design really won the show for me. I sat in complete awe of it.  They were able to create a distinction between Sam and the other ghosts from the living people and were able to do it when side by side with another person (as seen in the above pictures). They were able to create depth on a flat stage. When someone died and became a ghost, it happened in an instant. You were left looking at the person as a ghost and a human at the same time. It was truly magical. I don't think I can say enough about it!

Overall, I enjoyed the show. Is it the best show I've ever seen? No but it wasn't the worst I've ever seen. Would I recommend going to see it?  Absolutely! But for all my Tampa Bay area friends, you better act quickly!  Ghost the Musical will be at the Straz Center through April 27th! If you're not in the Tampa Bay area, you should try to see it when it comes to a theater near you on its first national tour!!!

Thank you to the amazing people at the Straz Center for partnering with the Tampa Bay Bloggers!  I was able to attend this production in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are 100% my own! This is theater people...I take it very seriously!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Knowing when to "Let It Go"

I wrote this post last week for the Tampa Bay Moms Blog.  I've explained all of the stress that have been going on in my life and this post was like therapy for me.  I love writing so much but the experience I had writing this post was truly organic.  The words just flowed and it turned into the piece I'm most proud of.

I feel like it's been so long since I've been on the blog that I should re-introduce myself. Hi, I'm Jess. I'm a full time working Momma who just learned the biggest Mommy lesson of all time: Knowing when to Let It Go (like the Frozen reference???  Gotta thank Debbie for that one! There will be more than one of these references so bear with me!)
As moms, we're charged with handling (or juggling in my case) so many tasks at one time on a daily basis. Keeping our children alive and happy, keeping our husbands/boyfriends/partners happy, managing the household and everything that comes with it, school responsibilities, extra curricular responsibilities, social obligations, and throw work responsibilities on top of it if you're a working Momma like me. When you sit down and look at everything a mom is responsible for, it's amazing we're all not in the looney bin by now. That's a lot of responsibility and pressure to put on one person. And to make it worse, we're so critical and judgmental towards our fellow Moms. We're expected to handle it all with grace and poise and not let everyone see we're falling apart at the seams.
That's where I found myself the past few months. Trying to hold everything together as best as I could while my life was spiraling out of control. I can't help but think of the amazing song "Let It Go" from Frozen. First off let me say that I absolutely adore this movie and the soundtrack. Granted we've been listening to it nonstop since it came out, to the point where I pretend the CD isn't in my car anymore, but it's still amazing. Just listening to "Let It Go" has brought me to tears before. The message is so powerful.
Don't let them in. Don't let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know. Well now they know
I was struck by that lyric. That's exactly what I was doing! I was drowning on a daily basis but I was putting on the happy face. You know the one. The one that makes everyone else think everything is fine when it's anything but. We've been dealing with my daughter's health issues with no answers. My son had a seizure at school, which was the worst day of my life. I had another kidney stone. My husband had a heart scare. I had just switched jobs. School and dance and family obligations were piling up. There was no light at the end of my tunnel. I was putting on a brave face each and every day. I was acting like nothing was going on, that there was no stress in my life.
One day I realized that I couldn't hide it anymore. There was no way I could pretend like it wasn't too much for me. That's when it hit me...I have to let it go. I have to stop pretending that I have everything under control. I learned to say no. I took a step back from some of the things I was involved in. That's why you haven't seen me on the blog since Christmas. I had to focus on the most important thing in my life, my family.
You know what I realized? I realized it was okay to say no. It was okay to let other people know you're overwhelmed and need help. I learned it's okay to feel like you're drowning because you're not the only one. I realized I'm not the first mom, nor will I be the last mom, to be going through what I was going through. I realized I didn't have to be the picture perfect portrait of Motherhood. Being a mom is wonderful and a dream come true but it's messy and crazy and it's hard. I've finally come to terms with that. I've become okay with knowing I'm not going to live up to society's expectations of what a Mother should be. I'm okay with that because the only opinions that matter are my children's and they think I'm doing an amazing job!
It's time to see what I can do. To test the limits and break through. No right. No wrong. No rules for me. I'm free. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Princess and Mommy Tea Party

You are cordially invited to the most royal tea party in all the land!

Princess and Mommy Tea Party

Sunday April 27, 2014


Sage Supper Club
22 N Fort Harrison Ave
Clearwater FL 33755

$25 per Mommy/Princess pair

Join us for a tea party straight out of a fairy tale! At the Princess and Mommy Tea Party, moms and daughters will be treated to a royal good time! Come dressed as your favorite princess (Moms…you too!!!) or choose one of the princess dresses that will be available at the party. All proceeds benefit Dance Central.
“We believe in dance education. What we offer goes beyond just steps, and children can truly flourish and grow as individuals from our program. Dance Central is committed to providing quality dance lessons in a safe & family oriented environment. Our goal is to produce great kids who appreciate the arts and are prepared for the future. Although our Scholarship Fund is just building, we are aiding families that have been with us through the years who are going through tough families emergencies and need the extra support from their second family at The DC. We assist families with dancers interested in classes from recreational dance to competitive dance”


Friday, April 11, 2014

Tiny Dancer

It's funny the way my life has turned out.  I'm not girly at all  yet I'm blessed with the girliest of girls.  I grew up playing sports and being with the boys.  Now I find myself spending my days at the dance studio.  And you know, I wouldn't change it for the world!

Almost 2 years ago I was debating whether to put Emmy in gymnastics or dance.  She's naturally coordinated and athletic.  She's strong despite her tiny frame. Ultimately, Emmy chose dance.  We found an amazing studio, one that was recommended to me by a former patient's mother and from my aunt.  My aunt was a professional dancer and told me to look into Dance Central because she used to dance with the studio owner. Ironically enough, it was the same studio my patient's mother recommended.  We met Miss Kelley and Emmy fell in love.

Last year, Emmy had a hard time.  She did really well with dance and was so cute! But we were going through a lot with her health-wise. She was sick a lot and went through a period where she just wouldn't dance.  Miss Kelley supported us (mainly me) throughout the whole issue.  We took a month off and Emmy regrouped.  Then she ended up having surgery a few weeks before the recital. Emmy still managed to perform, looking oh so cute!
Left: Emmy's first day of dance
Right: Emmy's last day of dance at the recital
We took the summer off to see if Emmy's health issues calmed down.  But we also took the time off to let Emmy grow up a little.  Being a very young 3 and having the demands of routine and structure that come with dance, on top of going to school for the first time, was a lot for her I think.  I think she just wasn't ready for all of that.  So when she said she wanted to go back to dance, I knew this was for real.  So we have spent every Saturday morning at the studio this year. She loves learning new moves and learning how to make her body do new things. She got to know her "big girls" (the elementary/middle schoolers who help teach her class) and loved doing what they could do. She did a great job at the winter performance, proving that spiders can be the cutest things in the world!
"Itsy Bitsy Spider" at the Winter Performance
As we near the end of the season, I just can't get over how much she's grown up.  She's learned so much and she's loving every minute of it.  This time last year she wouldn't even dance unless I was sitting in the doorway.  Now she's telling me I can't be backstage at the recital because I'm "not a dancer like her."  I can't get her to leave the studio on Saturdays.  She would stay there all day if I let her.  That just goes to show that we chose the right studio.  Emmy found her home at Dance Central and I couldn't be happier.
Dancing with the big girls
How we spend our Saturdays 
Only a matter of time before she's doing this without the wall's help
Showing off the new DC boy shorts!!!  She thinks she's a big girl now!
I'm happy that she's found her home because she's going to be spending a lot more time at the studio next year.  Emmy (or EmmyBell as Miss Kelley calls her) will be a member of the Competition Team next season!!!!  She's so excited (and so am I).  She can't wait to get to perform and show off all her moves!  I'm so proud of her! And she's proud to be a DC Dancer!!!!!

Thank you Miss Kelley for welcoming us into the DC Family and loving my EmmyBell as much as you do. She absolutely adores you and I'm so thankful that we have you in our lives!!!  Thank you for believing in her and helping her see how much she's capable of!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

ElectroDash 5K

I know I'm a day late and a dollar short on everything but I have to share the fun we had at the ElectroDash 5K!  I'm all about finding experiences for my kids that incorporate fun and exercise.  Sometimes it's the only way I can get Noah to get active (he's an indoors kind of kid, like his daddy).  When the opportunity presented itself to participate in ElectroDash, I knew it was the race for us!

The Hubs, the kids, my brother, his girlfriend, and my surrogate brother all met up at the fairgrounds for this race.  We've done a race at the fairgrounds before so we sorta knew what to expect, course wise.  The kids loved being able to wear as many glow sticks as humanly possible.We headed towards the starting line and then we were off.  The Hubs planned on walking the whole thing.  I was hoping the kids would want to run a little bit but nope, that wasn't happening.  Emmy was more focused on picking up glow sticks that people dropped.  That made for a VERY LONG 3 miles.  I didn't think a 5K could take so long!  But she had fun so that's what matters.  My brother and surrogate brother took off running after about a mile and my brother's girlfriend hung back with me and the kids.  She's usually my race partner in crime so I was glad she could do this race with me, even if it was just walking with the kids.

Here's a few pics of the fun we had:
I'm ready!!!
Our obligatory pre-race picture
This is just half of Emmy's glow sticks
Getting ready to start!
This was a pretty cool area.  Planets hanging up in the trees
That's Emmy holding up the planet
Emmy, asleep in the car on the way home, with her collection
Overall, I'm really happy with this experience.  I've never done a glow race before and turns out, they're really cool!  To see a million glowing lights running through a course was a sight to be seen.  Plus my kids had a blast!  I don't care how much I might not like something. If they like it, that's all that matters!  I will say that there wasn't as much black lights as I expected there to be.  There were a few stations that were cool but between them, it was very dark and the ground was very uneven.  It was a little unsafe in my opinion.  That would be my biggest complaint about the whole event.  Other than that, I totally recommend this event! I'm definitely looking forward to next year!!!!

Disclaimer: I received free entries for this event in exchange for my honest review, thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers.  All opinions are 100% my own

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Worst Day of My Life

Yesterday I mentioned that Noah had a seizure and I'm still having some trouble with it.  That experience is so much more than just a quick blurb in a recap post.  I constantly relive that day over and over in my head.

It was Valentine's Day.

A few days prior, I had been talking with Emmy's Immunologist.  She was in her usual sick cycle and we were coming up with a game plan for what to do next.  We had decided that if she spiked to 101, we'd bring her in to the office and have labs drawn.  Well wouldn't you know, on the 13th, I came home from work and she was blazing hot.  I emailed her doc, who emailed the team (while in labor) with the plan and lab orders. Seeing that email and having her in the bed with me, made my world crash in on me.  I had been surviving in "nurse mode" in respect to Emmy.  I was always thinking what we could test for, what this could be.  I never let myself just be a mom because I knew I'd break down.  Well February 13th was my breaking point. I cried all night and all morning.  I brought her in and had her labs drawn.  I spent the morning crying in people's offices because I just needed to. I had finally gotten to the point where I could mention Emmy's name without tearing up and I got the call I will never forget.  My mom was calling my cell phone at 1230 in the afternoon. My heart sank and I knew something was wrong.

"Something's wrong with Noah"

That's all she said before I couldn't concentrate.  Honestly, I didn't hear anything else. I was shaking and for the first time in my life, I didn't know what to do. I couldn't move my body. Thankfully I have amazing coworkers who handled the rest of the day for me. I grabbed my stuff and headed to my car. I called my mom back and finally realized what had happened.  Noah had been unresponsive for the past 15 minutes.  I called the pediatrician just to confirm that he was supposed to head to All Children's.  I called Mom back and told her to meet me at work.  By that point I was hysterical. By the grace of God, two of the doctors I work with were walking down the sidewalk and found me. Again, I'm so blessed to work with amazing people. One of the guys went with me to the EC.  He literally walked me there.  If he hadn't seen me, I'm not sure I would have ever made it there.  He was amazing.  He spoke to the EC doc for me to give them a heads up.  He waited with me until John showed up. He texted throughout the day. He stopped by to see us before he headed home for the day.  His wife texted me that night to make sure we were doing ok.  They are just good people.

Waiting for Noah to get there felt like an eternity. My mom was withholding some details because I was not in my right mind. When they showed up, John got him out of the car and he was grey. I'll never forget the color of his skin.  He wasn't responding to us. I've never felt so scared. Our room was ready for us and the entire EC staff was in our room.  About 10 minutes later, Noah started to answer questions but he still wasn't himself. Then about 10 minutes after that, it was like a switch was thrown.  His color got better, he sat up in the bed, and he started talking. I felt a little calmer after that.

I learned that he was unresponsive and not blinking for 10 minutes.  Then he started blinking but was still unresponsive and dead weight until he got to the EC.  On the ride over, his eyes were rolling in the back of his head. From start to finish, it lasted about 50 minutes. He was a trooper through his IV start, his EEG, and MRI.  He bonded with Emily, the Child Life Specialist.  She definitely made this experience a little easier on us all.  After about 6 hours, we were able to go home.  All of his testing was negative and we were to follow up with Neurology.  Later that night I remembered that a former coworker worked as a nurse practitioner for the Neurology group.  She answered all my questions, told me what to do if it happened again and helped set me up with the best doctor we have.  She did scare me a bit and told me that children with normal MRIs and EEGs have a 30-50% chance of future seizures.  Not exactly what I expected to hear.  That statistic alone has stressed me out more than anything.  I'm constantly on edge that he's going to have another one.

After seeing the Epileptologist, he sent us to Cardiology just to rule out any cardiac reasons.  Of course, we saw the best cardiologist All Children's has to offer! His work up was negative as well, which is such a blessing.  We are due back in 2 weeks to see Neurology again.

I'm thankful that we haven't had any issues.  He's had some instances where he spaces out which scare me but we've been fortunate that we haven't had anything more than that. And I'm hopeful that we won't have to go through this ever again.  It doesn't mean that I'm not a nervous wreck though.

My world was rattled that afternoon.  I got a phone call that I never imagined I'd get. I had that moment of sheer panic. I was hysterical. Literally hysterical.  It's a feeling I never want to feel again.
My sweet boy's mohawk the next day from the goo from the EEG leads


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When the body turns against you

To say that we've been unlucky in the health department is an understatement.  We have a crazy high deductible for our insurance. We usually meet our deductible by the end of the year but this year, we've already hit it.  It's only April people!  We actually hit it in March.. Can someone please throw us a bone???

We all know I get kidney stones.  I tend to get them once every 3 months.  I started off the year with a stone, no big deal. A quick trip to the ER and I was as good as new.  My newest ailment is my knee.  I finally got my butt off the couch and started running again.  I actually felt good running for the first time in my life. I was motivated and finally prepared mentally to start making running a part of my life.  But of course, my body had other plans.  A few Saturdays ago, I went to get something out of the dryer and felt the most intense burning pain I have ever felt in my life.  After hobbling along for a week, I saw the orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed me with plica syndrome.  Pretty much crazy inflammation of my plica that is controlled by either steroids or surgery.  I just finished a course of oral steroids and my knee doesn't feel any better.  I go back in a few weeks to see whether or not I get a cortisone injection or a surgery date to fix the plica.  It could also be a torn meniscus but they wouldn't know that until they get in my knee.  Either way I'm not looking forward to my next visit.

The Hubs had a pretty big scare in March.  He called me at work saying his blood pressure was like 150s/100s.  Not exactly what I wanted to hear.  He was having some chest tightness and tingling as well so I took him to the ER.  He ended up spending the night for observation since he fits the heart attack description: overweight male in his 30s, who doesn't eat well or exercise, with a ridiculous family history of heart disease.  Thankfully his work up was all negative and he was able to go home the next day.  He is on blood pressure meds, which are working pretty nicely, and he's (slowly) making some healthy lifestyle changes.

Emmy has always been a puzzle when it comes to her health.  I think I've talked about it before but she gets sick every 3 weeks like clockwork.  It's always the same too.....fevers, runny nose, cough, sore throat, and skin rashes.  We've been seeing an Immunologist since August and we've stumped her.  All of her work up has been negative but they are still concerned (as am I).  Finally I broke down and discussed her health history with one of my Bone Marrow Transplant docs who specializes in Immunodeficiencies (and who I respect and trust and who is absolutely brilliant).  She suggested we scan her sinuses and maybe it's a really bad case of chronic sinusitis.  So we did and her sinuses were packed.  We started her on 21 days of antibiotics.  I was so relieved and hopeful that this was our answer. Well sure enough, she got sick like clockwork, even on antibiotics.  Our Immunologist is out on maternity leave so we saw the nurse practitioner (who I adore) and we've stumped her as well.  Thankfully everyone is reaching out to their colleagues around the nation to see if anyone else has any ideas.  We have to come up with some answers soon because Emmy has a lot of exciting things on the horizon (stay tuned for a post on it!!!)

So that leaves Noah.  He had a seizure on Valentine's Day. Thankfully he's okay and has not had any further seizures but we don't have any answers.  We're left with a ton of "whys" which leaves me constantly on edge. It was the worst experience of my life.  There's so much emotion that I'm still feeling because of this.  I'm so thankful he's okay and that we haven't had any other issues but I feel like I'm changed because of it.  It's hard to explain.  That day is forever etched in my brain and I can't help but play it over and over in my mind. I'll explain more tomorrow.

Other than that, we're hunky-dory over in the Crimella house.  I'm impatiently awaiting the day when I can say we're all totally healthy at the same time!!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

I'm out from under my rock

Man....I can't believe I haven't written since the beginning of January!  That should tell you how my months have been.  I don't even know where to begin. Here's a quick run down of all the things that have happened:

~We're still dealing with Emmy being sick every 3 weeks.  We're no closer to an answer than we were in August.  Total frustration on our end
~Noah had a seizure on Valentine's Day.  Thankfully he's okay but no one could give us a reason why he had one. That was probably the worst day of my life. No lie.
~The Hubs spent the night in the hospital with high blood pressure, chest pain/tightness, and numbness and tingling.  He's fine and is on meds to control his blood pressure.
~Thankfully I've only had 1 kidney stone this year.
~Oh I did mess up my knee and might need surgery

Doesn't that sound like enough?  Well add on all of our family commitments, social commitments, dance commitments, and school commitments and you're looking at a woman who needs about 40 hours in a day rather than 24.  I found myself completely drowning in day to day life.  It's taken a long time for me to get back to feeling like myself, hence the HUGE vacay from blogging (although writing is so therapeutic for me so I probably shouldn't have abandoned it).  But I'm back, ready for a fresh start, and needing to get a lot off my chest.

I finally have a smile on my face!